Sunday, December 21, 2008

The whole world awaits Mary's reply

(This was in Saturday's Office of Readings, I thought you'd enjoy it.)

A sermon of St Bernard

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator.

See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

If you want to access the Liturgy of the Hours online, you can do so at Universalis, from which I took this.


Unknown said...

Thanks father. I was just telling someone last night how beautiful I thought this was.

Anonymous said...

Ditto - thanks Father, I just read that passage to a friend of mine where chatting on the phone on Saturday afternoon.

Don't you just love the image of all those that came before sort of holding their breathe while they waited for Mary to answer?

Chris Osgood said...

It was nice meeting you tonight Father! Hope to see you again real soon!!!

Fr Martin Fox said...


Yes, I marvel at what St. Bernard accomplished with this, which I assume was a homily. I have, at a daily Mass, simply read this in lieu of any other homily.

Hi Chris!

Wow, you're fast!

Did you see the pictures and my post on your visit? Just posted!

Please give me a call if you are ever passing through, I'll be delighted to get together.